I enjoy reading biographies about those who served with distinction and honor. Growing up with a mom who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, I’ve always been drawn to military stories as it was impressed upon me at a young age the honor associated with serving.
Of all the military-related books read, Fearless, by Eric Blehm, takes the cake for the most inspirational.
The book is about Adam Brown, a former crack addict turned family man and SEAL Team 6 member who served his country at the highest level despite unimaginable heartache, handicaps and misfortunes. For any entrepreneur looking for a great book on perseverance, this is it… you can’t beat Fearless.
There were some great reminders and learnings from this book that I want to share, hopefully enticing you to pick up a copy. Fearless will fire you up if you need a kick start during these spring months – a notorious time of year to burn out.
4 Things I learned After Reading Fearless by Eric Blehm
1. Define your weaknesses: Understanding our strengths and weaknesses is so important for our success. Michael Jordan once said that he wasn’t the best basketball player in the world because he had no weaknesses… he was the best because he was a master at hiding his weaknesses. Adam Brown’s weakness was his addiction to crack. And despite being clean for many years into his SEAL career, he was acutely aware that at any moment of weakness he could slip back into a drug binge and lose everything. Brown used his faith and family, constantly leaning on both, to help him overcome the temptation of the nasty drug.
2. Take responsibility for your team’s failures: Adam Brown led by example and never let any of his teammates take the blame for a failed mission. In fact, during a rigorous training program for an elite SEAL task force, a fellow recruit made a terrible mistake by forgetting his firearm during a surprise mock raid. This was grounds for immediate dismissal from the program and would have put a ceiling on this guy’s career. When the team was confronted by a higher-up as to what exactly happened, some members pointed the finger… Brown immediately stepped up and scolded his team for turning their backs on a fellow member, and he took personal responsibility, even though it clearly had nothing to do with him. This honorable act very well could have gotten Brown and the other guy dismissed from the program. However, the commander in charge recognized the selfless character and leadership qualities within Brown, and the incident was soon disregarded. Needless to say, Brown’s career was propelled forward and he ended up making the most elite SEAL unit there is.
If you’re an entrepreneur, act like Adam Brown. You’re the leader, therefor all team failures and shortcomings should fall on you. Don’t let anyone in your organization get singled out for a mistake. In fact, step in front of all criticism and create that culture of camaraderie and loyalty.
3. Family first: Adam Brown was often out of the country on special operations for the SEALS. So his kids were frequently without a dad and his wife without husband. This took its toll as you can imagine, but Adam made up for it with an intense dedication to family time when he was off duty. He was adamant about family activities and put as much energy into his wife and kids as he did his job. Brown would consciously make as many positive memories as he could when he was with his family so to make it a bit easier when he was away for long periods of time.
Although suffering from numerous physical ailments when he came back from missions, Brown never let his family know he was in pain as he didn’t want to draw attention to a negative. Entrepreneurs can train themselves to compartmentalize when they’re with family too. Don’t bring your stresses to the dinner table. Make it about them, not you. Simple, yet very few consistently do it. The stronger your family life the more successful your career will be.
4. Past mistakes influence future success: Mistakes can be painful. At the moment they’re realized it often feels like the world is crashing down. That said, if acknowledged and owned, mistakes of the past dictate how we succeed down the road. It’s all but guaranteed that the knowledge learned from a mistake will have applications in the future…
Adam Brown was the poster boy for fucking up early in his life. During his years as a crack addict, he burnt just about every bridge he had. However, after getting clean and reflecting on his selfish ways as a drug addict, Brown realized he had a lot of catching up to do. He felt indebted to those he had hurt and society as a whole. That guilt sculpted him into the hero he is today. Not only that, but because of his experience at rock bottom, Brown became incredibly understanding of other people’s shortcomings and misfortunes. Given his ability to relate to just about anyone in need, all of his SEAL-pals looked to him for guidance and support in times of their own personal trouble – an honor Brown took to the grave.
Not only did Adam Brown possess the character of a world-renowned Navy SEAL, but he demonstrated the leadership qualities every entrepreneur should strive for. Fearless, by Eric Blehm, is a great book for entrepreneurs – order your copy here.
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